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Rome & the World: united Christian Christmas in Ukraine? • undercover Jesuit

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Christmas tree in Kyiv

I.Media - published on 10/20/22

Every day, Aleteia offers a selection of articles written by the international press about the Church and the major issues that concern Catholics around the world. The opinions and views expressed in these articles are not those of the editors.

Thursday 20 October 2022
1. Ukrainian Orthodox open door to unified Christmas celebration on December 25
2. The great secret of Jesuit Kurt Peter Gumpel 
3. Creation of the Department of Eastern Christian Art at the Louvre
4. Anglicans consider lifting the secrecy of confession
5. Pope Francis recounts his meeting with Holocaust survivor Edith Bruck

1Ukrainian Orthodox open door to unified Christmas celebration on December 25

In Ukraine, Catholic, Protestant and some Orthodox parishes celebrate Christmas on December 25. The Orthodox Church in Ukraine has been celebrating Christmas on January 7, but this date could be reconsidered due to the Russian invasion. In case of “pastoral circumstances” and if the faithful agree, the date of Christmas can be brought forward “as an exception,” decided Tuesday in Kyiv the Holy Synod of the Ukrainian Autocephalous (independent) Orthodox Church, considered schismatic by the Moscow Patriarchate. The purpose of this announcement is to determine to what extent the faithful would appreciate this date change. Parishes that celebrate the birth of Jesus on December 25 must inform the Church leadership of the number of faithful who attend these services. In late 2021, the head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Epiphanius, had already spoken out in favor of a gradual change to the revised calendar, which would mean celebrating Christmas on December 25, predicting this would happen within 10 years. This question has become more urgent now as a way for the Ukrainian Church to distance themselves from Russia and the Russian Orthodox Church, which celebrate the birth of Christ according to the Julian calendar. Since the Roman reform of the calendar in 1582, the Julian calendar’s Christmas is 13 days after the Western Gregorian calendar introduced at that time. By switching to December 25, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church would follow the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople as well as the Orthodox Churches of Greece, Romania, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Alexandria and Antioch. For more than 100 years, these Orthodox faithful have celebrated Christmas on the same day as Catholics and Protestants. In contrast, the churches in Serbia and Georgia celebrate this festivity on January 7. In 2020, a survey showed that 77% of Ukrainians, Orthodox or Greek-Catholic, celebrated the birth of Jesus on January 7. In 2017, the Ukrainian Parliament made December 25 a legal holiday, in addition to the Orthodox Christmas Day., German.

2The great secret of Jesuit Kurt Peter Gumpel

America magazine dedicates an article to German Jesuit Kurt Peter Gumpel, who died last week in Rome just shy of his 99th birthday. A scholar who did not seek the limelight, he devoted his entire career to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, the article explains. His mastery of the history, development, and procedures of canonization was recognized as unparalleled. Father Gumpel guided more than 150 candidates through the sainthood process. However, in the outside world and in the media, the Jesuit’s name will always be linked to his vigorous defense of Pius XII. Upon his death, various media outlets spoke of a past that remained mysterious, surrounded by speculation. Writer Kenneth L. Woodward revealed his secret: Peter’s last name, Gumpel, was a pseudonym. The Jesuit told Woodward that his real surname was Hohenzollern, a royal dynasty of kings and princes, electors and emperors (1871-1918) who ruled all or parts of Germany and Romania beginning in the 11th century. The story goes that Kurt Peter Hohenzollern was an only child, and his family expected him to marry and extend their royal line. Peter, however, had his heart set on becoming a Jesuit. He sought advice from Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, the Vatican ambassador to Germany at the time. “Follow your heart,” the soon-to-be-elected Pope Pius XII replied. According to Woodward, Peter Gumpel “did not want his personal story to be in any way a public burden to the Society of Jesus, or to the cause of Pius XII.” “The church was his family, the Jesuits his companions, the saints his only royalty,” concludes the American journalist.

America, English 

3. Creation of the Department of Eastern Christian Art at the Louvre

Thanks to a decree published on October 4, the Louvre Museum will open a “Department of Byzantine and Oriental Christian Art.” One of the first acquisitions was a 17th-century model of the Holy Sepulcher.

Terre Sainte, French

4. Anglicans consider lifting the secrecy of confession

The Anglican Bishops’ Conference is considering lifting the secrecy of confession when it comes to child abuse. This is the proposal made to the Church of England by the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse (IICSA)., French

5. Pope Francis recounts his meeting with Holocaust survivor Edith Bruck

The pontiff said he was struck by the strength of Bruck, who he felt found, in her life and in her work, a light in one of the darkest abysses of human history.

La Repubblica, Italian

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